On March 31, 2005 the UN Security Council, acting under Chapter VII of the UN Charter, adopted Resolution 1593 which referred the Darfur situation to the ICC. The resolution passed by a vote of 11-0, with four abstentions (by the United States, Algeria, China and Brazil). The referral purported to exempt non-Sudanese citizens from States not party to the ICC's Rome Statute, including Americans, from ICC jurisdiction. The referral was based on findings by the UN International Commission of Inquiry on Darfur. The Commission's February 1, 2005 Report "strongly recommend[ed]" that the Security Council invite the International Criminal Court to pursue prosecutions against those suspected of the worst crimes. On June 6, 2005 the Prosecutor decided to officially open an investigation into the Darfur situation.
The Prosecutor reports to the UN Security Council biannually on the situation in Darfur.
Sudan is the largest country in Africa; its population is composed of a large number of tribes. It is a republic with a federal system of government. The current president of Sudan, General Omar Hassan Al Bashir, assumed power in June 1989, following a military coup d'état organized in cooperation with the Muslim Brotherhood. The country was affected by a civil war that pitted the Muslim North against Christians and animists in the South between 1983 and 2005. In January 2005, the government and southern Sudan's rebel movement, the Sudan's Peoples Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A), signed a Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA). This accord provides for a ceasefire and security arrangements, as well as for wealth and power-sharing accords, including the adoption of a new constitution and the setting of a government of national unity.A peacekeeping on patrol in Darfur. Heba Aly/IRIN.
The Darfur region in the western part of Sudan is a geographically large area, approximately the size of Texas, which is inhabited by different tribal groups. The Darfur conflict began in February 2003 when two African rebel movements, the Sudan Liberation Movement/Army (SLM/A) and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), revolted claiming that the government had been neglecting Darfur and its people. Because the government did not have sufficient military resources, it called upon local tribes to assist in fighting the rebels. This exploited existing tribal tensions in Darfur. An Arab militia, frequently referred to as "Janjaweed," (a Darfurian term for an armed bandit on a horse or camel) led the government's counter-insurgency campaign. As a result of the fighting between the rebels on the one hand and the government and the Janjaweed on the other, attacks on civilians, as well as destruction and burning of villages, became widespread. In May 2007, when the ICC issued the first arrest warrants in the Darfur situation, at least 200,000 people were estimated to have been killed and over 2 million displaced.
The Darfur investigation has resulted in five cases to date:
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